"Voluntary, Collaborative" Bay Cleanup Is Failing. A Call For Stronger Action and Regulation.
179,000 Pounds of Trash...and One Big Turtle

Clean the Bay Day: A Great Way to Help

If you’ve ever wondered what you could do to help Save the Bay – or help restore a local neighborhood creek or stream – look no further than tomorrow’s (Saturday, June 5) Clean the Bay Day.

CBF Save the Bay Day 2010 final This annual shoreline/stream bank litter cleanup sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) draws thousands of volunteers to spruce up their local waterways. Folks of all ages and sizes participate – individuals, families, school clubs, Scouting groups, corporate volunteers, military units, outdoor clubs. They don’t hesitate to get down and dirty picking up paper, plastic, Styrofoam, cans, and all the other flotsam and jetsam that, sadly, seems everywhere in our Chesapeake Bay waters.

Over the 22 years of Clean the Bay Day, tens of thousands of volunteers have pulled out 4.2 million pounds of litter and debris from 4,255 miles of shoreline in Hampton Roads, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Middle Peninsula, Northern Virginia, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Shenandoah Valley.

Volunteers come on foot, by boat, by canoe or kayak, even with scuba gear to help clean up. They’ve pulled from the water everything from tires to computers, bicycles to cars, baby carriages to shopping carts.

(Can you guess the most common item littering Bay waterways over the decades? Cigarette butts. There oughta be a law…)

For tomorrow’s event, more than 7,600 volunteers have registered to help. I should mention that online Wittman & Oder volunteer registration has ended for this year’s Clean the Bay Day. However, to see if your local cleanup still needs volunteers, go to www.cbf.org/clean .

But even if you can’t make it to tomorrow’s event, consider participating in next year’s Clean the Bay Day. Better still, why not organize a Clean the Bay Day cleanup in your locality along a favorite creek or river? For more information how, click here.

In addition to the immediate aesthetic benefits of cleaning up shorelines, Clean the Bay Day is a great teacher, a wonderful hands-on learning experience for citizens about the insidious effects of runoff, the rainwater that washes over the landscape and sweeps litter, dirt, toxic chemicals, and other pollution down gutters and storm drains and into our streams and rivers. Pulling visible litter from the water can’t help but make you wonder what else is going into our DSC_0021 waterways that isn’t so obvious and so readily removed. Believe me, there’s a lot. Read more about storm water here.

Doing much of the heavy lifting to make Clean the Bay Day happen every year are CBF’s local partners, the litter and recycling coordinators in towns, cities, counties, and parks across the watershed. These are the folks who select cleanup sites, provide trash bags, gloves, and much of the on-site supervision on the cleanup day itself.

And, of course, events as popular and widespread as Clean the Bay Day couldn’t happen without the generous support of sponsors. This year’s include the lead sponsor, the Port of Virginia, and Dollar Tree, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Waste Management, WVEC-13, Farm Fresh, Dominion Printers, Volvo Penta of the Americas, Virginia Natural Gas, and Entercom Communications Corp.

Pulling all the partners, sponsors, and volunteers together each year is Sharon Smith, CBF’s Clean the Chris' Picts 014 Bay Day coordinator.

“Sharon does an amazing job working with 29 partners throughout Virginia to make sure the various organizations have what they need to make the event a success,” says CBF Hampton Roads Director Christy Everett. “It is no small task overseeing an event that brings together 7,000 volunteers.”

Smith, whose leadership and enthusiasm have grown Clean the Bay Day far beyond its Hampton Roads roots, preaches the gospel every chance she gets.

“Though all Virginians may not live on the water, most of us live within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and all of us deserve clean water. Because of runoff, everything you do on your property, even though miles from a river, stream, or the Bay, can impact water quality. It’s imperative that each of us makes the connection between our actions on land and water quality.”

Amen.

By Chuck Epes

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